If Lipton tea is what you imagine when you think of brewed tea, you have yet to have a cup of tea brewed from freshly picked herbs. If you have yet to have that cup of freshly brewed tea, it isn’t too much more work to actually grow those herbal blends on your own. During the winter, if you have an indoor herb garden, you can pick fresh sprigs off of your herb plants and create flavor blends of your own, to your own taste. Drinking herbal tea is a great way to de-stress, and by growing your own supply, you get the added health benefit of working with plant life.
There are two methods for brewing your own herbal teas as described by The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan, “brewing by Infusion: most teas made from leaves, petals, and flowers are prepared by infusion—steeping in boiling water. Infusion allows the oils in these parts of the herb to be released gently; if the herbs were boiled, the oils would evaporate.” Continuing, “Brewing by Decoction: the decoction method—simmering herbs for several minutes—is used mainly for teas made from seeds, roots, and bark whose active ingredients are more difficult to release. Herbal teas prepared by decoration generally tend to stay fresher than do teas prepared by infusion.”
To brew your tea by infusing, “bruise freshly picked herb leaves gently by crushing them in a clean cloth. The bruising will help release aromatic oils.” Use a ratio of 3 teaspoons (1 teaspoon if dried) of freshly picked herbs to 1 cup of boiling water. Place herbs into a teapot, pour in boiling water, and allow the mixture to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, or until enough flavor has been released to your taste. Strain and serve.
To brew your tea by decoction, “seeds should be well crushed to bring out their oils. A mortar and pestle work best.” Use a ratio of 2 cups of water to 1 tablespoon of seeds. Bring water to a boil, add seeds, lower heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain and serve.
For a wonderfully flavorful, yet simple to make tea, try brewing a lavender mint tea. Lavender adds a pleasant, but not overpowering contrast to mint’s sweetness. Try a ratio of 1 teaspoon of fresh lavender flowers, 1.5-2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, and 1 cup of boiling water. Combine the herbs in a teapot, pour boiling water over the mixture, steep for 5 minutes (or to taste).
Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today to schedule a Spring 2022 cleanup. (Updated: 1/12/22)